New tool links Treasure Valley home buyers with housing-finance help

zkyle@idahostatesman.comJune 19, 2014 

If you're a first-time homebuyer in a family of four with a household income of $50,000 a year, you may be eligible for up to six aid programs to buy a house like this one, the Down Payment Resource Center says. This house at 3752 S. Springfield Ave. in Meridian was listed Thursday, June 19 for $117,000.

A go-to information source for the Treasure Valley real estate market hopes to be a matchmaker for home buyers who need financing help.

Prospective home buyers or real estate agents using the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service website, intermountainmls.com, can now click on a link to find the home buyer assistance programs available for each listing.

The assistance includes programs available through Neighborhood Housing Services and the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, many of which offer cost-saving provisions for first-time or low-income buyers.

“We hope more potential homebuyers will come to our site and see what opportunities may be available for their situation,” said Greg Manship, CEO of Intermountain MLS.

The service is provided by Down Payment Resources, an Atlanta company that sells subscriptions to its database of home buyer assistance programs to listing services like the Intermountain MLS and other real estate groups.

The Down Payment Resource link takes you to a list of the programs the property already qualifies for. Prospective homebuyers enter some information into the website to see if they qualify for additional programs based on their income, occupation or other criteria.

The Down Payment Resource link takes users to a page asking for some basic, personal information, including their name, contact information and household income. Once users submit information, Down Payment Resource sends an email with information about the home buyer programs available. A real estate agent will call or email depending on the user's preference offering to talk through the program options.

Nonprofits and federal and state agencies offer dozens of homebuyer assistance programs, Down Payment Resource spokeswoman Tracey Shell said. Checking to see if a certain buyer or property qualified for any of them would take time on the phone that most agents and buyers don’t have, she said.

“That’s why Down Payment even exists,” Shell said. “It’s always been a challenge for home buyers to connect with the wide variety of programs out there.”

About 87 percent of Intermountain MLS residential listings are eligible for at least one home buyer assistance program, according to the listing service. Lower-priced homes tend to qualify for more programs, but Manship said he’s seen homes priced up to $389,000 qualify for assistance.

Idaho Housing and Finance Association home buyer programs are among the most commonly listed on Intermountain MLS listings, Manship said. The association, which administers programs offered by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides services to all homebuyers but offers extra programs for low-income buyers. Gerald Hunter, IHFA president, said the new links will help the association reach more home buyers.

Programs that Down Payment Resources will spotlight on Intermountain MLS listings include:

Æ City of Boise Affordable Home Ownership Program - Moderate Income: Provides up to $35,000 in purchase assistance.

Æ IHFA Good Credit Rewards Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program: Provides up to $8,000 for down payment and closing costs to lower the monthly mortgage payment so borrowers can qualify for the loan amount they need.

Æ Neighborhood Housing Services of Boise/City of Boise Broker Product: Provides up to $35,000 in purchase assistance.

Zach Kyle: 377-6464, Twitter: @IDS_zachkyle

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